CLUB members past and present will be coming together this weekend to celebrate a village side’s half century in existence.

Ilsington Villa first kicked a ball in anger in 1971 – when they entered Division Seven of the South Devon Football League for the 1971/72 campaign.

Having played at Alston near Ashburton for their first 23 years in existence, a move home to Lewthorne Cross followed in 1994 – where they have been ever since.

A meal and celebration at Ashburton’s Lavender House Hotel this Saturday will give everyone associated with the club a chance to reminisce.

Club secretary Adam Rousell explained: ‘We were actually formed in 1971, so it’s now just past 50 years after being delayed last year through Covid.

‘We are having an event to mark that celebration where we are gathering past players, supporters, sponsors and committee members together and having a meal.

‘We’ll be handing out some end of season trophies as well, as we would usually do, but also marking it as a 50th anniversary celebration event.’

Happily, the knees-up coincides with the end of one of Villa’s more successful seasons in the South Devon Football League.

Led by long-time manager and former player Tony ‘Buzz’ Lacey, the club secured a Division Two and Lidstone Cup double in 2021/22.

‘It’s very fitting,’ said Lacey. ‘We’ve had a few years where it’s not gone so well, but that’s football and as a club we’ve stuck together.

‘We’ve had a lot of youngsters recently who have come through and stuck with us and we’ve really reaped the rewards of lots of hard work.

‘I’m immensely proud that we’ve been able to put this night together. There are people we will be seeing on Saturday night who we haven’t seen for years. They were part of the club 50 years ago and I’m really looking forward to that.’

John Heathman is the club’s president and groundsman. He has been involved since day one as a player and lives local to Ilsington.

‘There will be several founding members there on the night – probably about half a dozen I would think,’ he said.

‘There are just too many memories to mention over the past 50 years, really. We’ve lost a lot of players along the way, which is unfortunate, but it’s a real family club with a family atmosphere.’